Sometimes I wonder if our US news reporting agencies get together in a dark sinister room (cue music), having identified the anxiousness of the people, and then concoct a plan to find and promulgate the worst, most terrifying news that they can possibly find around the sphere we call earth.
I wonder if they think that they can keep us glued to their station if they give us the most heart-stopping, breath-sucking news…well, I really don't think they wonder about that, obviously they know it works and each and every day billions of people allow the media to determine their mood, and unfortunately for many, their fate.
I tend to prefer reading the news over watching the news. I think it would be an incredible thing to have a news channel that focused on inspiring news…news that would elicit a response from the depth of your soul to be more, do more, and expect more! A news show that revealed the millions of incredible people around the planet who defy the status-quot; who think of others more than themselves; who actually add to life in contrast to the news hours we see highlighting the people and events that tragically take life, or reduce it.
This does not mean to further the proverb, "Ignorance is bliss" but rather, if you want to have a life that slowly transitions from pessimism to optimism; from the cup is half empty toward half full, or from a negative mindset to a positive mindset, it all begins with the data you fill your mind and heart with. For most of us, the data that we continually pour into our skulls of mush is full of, anxiety, fear, death, revenge, insanity, and doom and gloom. And then we wonder why half our nation is on Prozac or some other form of anti-depressant.
This week make a log entry of what data is going into your brain. What TV shows, movies, music, news, magazines etc. are you using as your primary data source to fuel your life.
When we collectively fill our souls with the negative…the pharmaceutical empire grins like the Cheshire cat as they dole out their quick fix which is really no fix, and people remain stuck in a dungeon of depression, disillusionment and discouragement!
While I know that my idea of a positive news show doesn't create the dollar signs that appear in the cartoon dialog bubble of the media executives minds, we can, however, choose the data that we engage with on a daily basis. And quite honestly, this alone can begin to change the way you view yourself, the world and your future.
One of the best brain system reboot verses that I use constantly to realign my heart and mind with God's is Philippians 4:8-9…check it out:
Summing it all up,
friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on
things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the
best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not
things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you
heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work
together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.
Right now we are experiencing and viewing a struggling economy, people that we know and love losing their jobs, family members lost to a war in a different land, a global economic fear that is slowly wrapping its fingers around the planet with the darkest of fingers. It is so easy to fall into the downward spiral, yes?
What is so powerful about the verse I quoted above is that Paul has this soaring optimistic Spirit gushing out of him like a fire-hose through the entire letter of Philippians. In fact throughout the letter he is encouraging us with all that is within him to allow to the joy of God to infuse our souls and so control us that no earthly circumstance that we encounter will rob us of the beauty and faithfulness of God in the midst of the "stuff of life!"And the whole time Paul is writing the letter, he is in one of Caesar's prisons…not really a place that lends itself to optimism, positive outlook, or viewing the cup as half full!
The reality then, is that your circumstances don't have to control your mind, soul, heart. Let me give you a few key spiritual action items from Philippians 4:8 to change your mindset, elevate your mood, and keep you focused on your goals and not the obstacles in your journey.
Paul say to fill your mind, or infuse your life with the kind of things that you want to see become a reality in your life. He gives us a few key words. Did you notice his key words are the opposite of what tends to infuse our homes from media today? I like his choices:
Is it true? noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the
best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not
things to curse.
In other words, are the things being put into our souls through what we watch, listen to, read and experience, things that would make mom proud, or things we wouldn't want her to know about!
Everything you watch has a message that is spun into the fabric of its creation…what is the message? Is it True? Perhaps it's time to truly watch what we put into our eyes the same way we read labels on food products to make sure what we put into our bodies is good and healthy so that we feel good and can actually experience life and spend less time in pharmacies.
Have you noticed that sometimes the marketing says, "Healthy," but it's not. Not everything is true in this world, so it is important to start with a truth base. Most people make up their own truth, but guess what? Self-made truth doesn't transform your life the ways God's truth does.
God through the rest of the list and infuse your week, month, year with those positive images, sounds, and thoughts, and you will be well on your way ton standing firm even through the worst crisis.
Far too many people are freaked out about the word "meditate." They think it is too "Eastern" and will lead them down a path away from God. That is simply fear and a lack of understanding talking. This thought process misses the mark in a couple of key areas:
1. In the Bible God calls us to meditate. The Psalms are full of examples of the call to meditate. Joshua was told his entry into the Promised Land would be successful if he would meditate on what God had said and spoken. And Paul in Phil. 4:8 calls us to "think…ponder…meditate" on the things of God.
2. We forget that the Bible is an "Eastern" book. It didn't start in America, and Jesus practiced and lived in the Middle East, so this was nothing weird or new to Him. Too often we think Christianity started with the Reformation or worse yet, in America. No, it was born out of Judaism, born in the East.
Meditation is necessary in our busy, negative world. To meditate you simply draw away to a place where you can shut the world out for a few moments and re-center your life. Get comfortable. Have your proverb, psalm, prayer or verse with you and begin to speak it…slowly. Let it roll around on your tongue. Let it seep into your soul…Let it spark your God-given imagination. Let the truth of its beauty flood your soul. Ask God to reveal who He is to you in this moment, and that you get a bigger picture of His reality for your life.
When we slow down and still our bodies, have you noticed how your brain fights against you with rapid-fire thoughts which make it hard to think about anything! Or maybe for you it's when you go to bed at night and can't sleep because your mind is working furiously like a hamster on it's spinning wheel. Generally the thoughts that keep you awake are centered around a fear, conflict, or a negative experience. Hmmm.It's time to change the thoughts. If you haven't been infusing your life with the things Paul recommended, guess what? Yup, you are stuck. If you have, meditation on a regular basis will help those words, thoughts, and principles sink deep into your conscious and subconscious mind where they can be retrieved to defeat the other thoughts that keep you from the rest you need.
Meditation is allowing what you are thinking about or focusing on, to slowly makes its way to your heart and belief systems. Prayer is your mind seeking the change in a conversation with God. So, another way to put it is that we pray with our mind, and meditate with our heart. Both a necessary, both are tools God has given you to experience more of Him, and more of life.
This is the theoretically easy one right? Wrong! Yes, we all know we actually need to practice these and other things to experience change, but too many simply don't act on what they know. If you find yourself in that boat which is a whole lot of data but haven't inserted the jump drive yet, think about this:
1. Write out your goals on paper. Get a cheap .79 spiral notebook, and
write down how you want to feel…What you would love others to say
about you…What you want to accomplish…What you need to do to
accomplish those things…What emotions or feelings you would like to
replace with new feelings and what those are. Get these things out of
your mind and onto a goal sheet that you can post somewhere visible.
2. Get into an accountability relationship with a friend you trust. Some one who will hold you to what you need to do to begin changing the patters in your life and unleash of new mindset that doesn't fall prey to the fear that surrounds us.
3. Remember it's the about process and not perfection. This is a journey and not a one stop zap. It is a progressional infusion into your life that replaces all the limiting beliefs from your past, and God is at work making them a reality. You will have days that don't go well. You will have times that you wonder what's going on, that's natural. When that happens check in with your accountability partner and be honest and real. Your partner can help encourage you to keep going or look at some changes that might need to happen in your life.
Action is what cements the new data into your life, that's why Paul said in that verse to do the things and to practice the things they learned from him. Now this doesn't change the world economy. It doesn't reverse the bad phone call you received from your doctor, or it doesn't stop your company from downsizing. What it does do is realign you with a God-reality that can carry you through all of those things without losing hope! And hope is a commodity that our world needs today in a radical way.
This week, start to flood your heart, mind, and soul with good-positive-inspiring data, and see what happens as you make it a habit in your life.